Under a bright sun, which had just begun to warm up a cold Thursday morning at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium, the Kerala Ranji Trophy team claimed its rightful place in history.
Kerala defeated Gujarat by 113 runs and booked a place in the semifinal for the first time in its Ranji Trophy history. The State had started playing in India’s premier domestic tourney since 1957-58.
The six-decade old wait came to an end when K.P. Rahul ran a few yards back from his position at point to take a tumbling catch. That was the last wicket of Gujarat as Kerala scripted history, with two and half days to spare.
Fittingly, that wicket was taken by Sandeep Warrier, Kerala’s leading bowler in the competition. When Arzan Nagwaswalla’s attempt to hit his shot-pitched ball over cover ended up in Rahul’s hands, Warrier scalped his 39th wicket of the season.
The swing bowler finished the match with figures eight for 72. He wasn’t the only Kerala bowler to take eight wickets, though.
His new-ball partner Basil Thampi, who picked three wickets in the first innings went on to claim his maiden five-wicket haul in the second innings to register match figures of eight for 88.
Thampi achieved this feat in what was his 27th First Class games.
He was also was named Man-of-the-Match (he had top-scored with 37 in Kerala’s first innings with some lusty blows down the order).
Together, the Kerala pace twin has scalped 72 from nine matches in this tournament so far.
Tough task for Gujarat
It was always going to be a tough task for Gujarat against such a talented pair of quicks. And it was even more so on a third-day wicket that still looked green and was two-paced.
The visitor, who started its second innings on Thursday morning chasing 195, needed to survive the morning session without too much damage to entertain any hopes at all. But, that was not to be.
It all began with Thampi uprooting the off stump of Kathan Patel with a ball that came sharply in. Five balls later, he had Priyank Panchal, Gujarat’s run-machine, trapped in front of the wickets.
Now, the 2017 champion’s hopes rested mainly on skipper Parthiv Patel, but in the very next over, he was run-out by a brilliant piece of fielding from his counterpart, Sachin Baby, whose direct hit from mid-on caught Parthiv short of his crease.
The wickets continued to fall regularly, though Rahul Shah impressed on his debut, batting at one down. He was unbeaten on 37 when the end came in the extended morning session.
In the semifinal, Kerala will meet the winner of the Vidarbha-Uttarakhand match.
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